Sunday, July 13, 2014

Woman pleads guilty to taking money

Zito faces up to 7 years in prison for using Red Cross credit card for personal purchases.

June 10. 2013 11:30PM

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WILKES-BARRE – A Drums woman charged with taking more than $30,000 from the American Red Cross pleaded guilty Monday to a related felony charge.

Shelly Zito, 44, of West Butler Drive, was scheduled to stand trial Monday on charges she used a credit card to purchase $34,462 in gift cards she allegedly used for personal use.

Instead, Zito entered a plea to a charge of theft by deception. She faces a maximum of seven years in prison when she is sentenced on July 26.

According to court papers, in February 2010 a routine audit was conducted by Tony Ferlenda, chief executive officer of North Eastern Penn Blood Region, which revealed that Zito used an American Red Cross card to purchase gift cards for hospital sales.

Ferlenda noticed a deficit and notified a local Walmart, and saw surveillance video of Zito purchasing gift cards with the American Red Cross card and then using that card for personal use.

Zito’s card history was reviewed from July 2009 to November 2009 where a subject was chosen “contest winner” and named health care workers as “winners” of gift cards, according to the criminal complaint.

The health care workers were contacted by police, who noted none of them were aware of winning any contest, and that if they had won they would not accept prizes because of their professional and business relationship with the American Red Cross.

Between February 2009 and January 2010, investigators said $34,462 was spent on gift cards.

Police later interviewed Zito in October 2011, according to court papers, who said she was dealing with a shopping/spending addiction for years.

Zito said she began working at the American Red Cross in 2001 and was promoted in 2008, receiving a debit card. Soon after, Zito said, she began buying gift cards in the amounts of $25 and $50 and using them for personal use. The criminal complaint does not specify what Zito allegedly used the cards for.

Zito remains free on $5,000 unsecured bail.

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